Trip Report

What you need to know: Fatbiking the Oregon Coast

We recently spent a whole week fatbiking Oregon’s rugged and scenic coastline to determine what sections were accessible by fatbikes. We rode an entire third of the state’s length and learned a few things along the way.

The wind is a big deal.

Most of the summer there is a predominant strong north wind. This makes it nearly impossible to travel in a northerly direction. In the winter the winds aren’t as reliable so your itinerary requires a bit more flexibility. Either way, it’s only fun with the wind at your back so some sort of shuttle is probably necessary.

The tide is a big deal.

Dry sand is too soft and deep to ride on even with fat tires so we relied on low tides to expose the firm wet sand that makes beach riding fun. In addition, many rocky outcroppings and streams are only passable at low tide so do your research. Check your tide tables and plan your day around them!

Rivers, even small streams can be impassible.

Talk to locals and look at satellite images — even small creeks can turn into deep bogs and brackish estuaries where they meet to ocean making formidable barriers. Be prepared to get wet or even turn around, stream mouths can create strong unexpected currents when they meet the ocean.

Dune riding is fantastic fun. (and a workout!)

The most unique riding you can do is on the Oregon Dunes. They undulate across the landscape creating thousands of square miles of skatepark like fun. Except it’s a skatepark that doesn’t hurt when you fall down. The lunar landscape can present terrain that challenges even the most stalwart rider or easy rolling hills for someone who rarely rides. And it’s fun for everyone. The sand varies in firmness, but winter is actually the best time to go when it holds more moisture and you stay on the surface easier. Explore the non-motorized areas for an even more serene experience.

Riding on the coast kills your bike.

The sand and saltwater conspire together with unnerving speed to seize up and destroy your bike. Stay out of the saltwater and clean your bike every evening with lots of water and baking soda to neutralize the corrosion. Or, just rent bikes that are regularly maintained and reserved for beach riding. The Mountain Shop here in town has a very affordable rental program with some superb Salsa fatbikes.

Our takeaway:

Given the complexity of terrain, wind and tides; and the harshness of the environment on a bicycle it’s best to rent a bike from the Mountain Shop here in town, South Coast Bicycles, or Bike Newport and get riding recommendations from them.

Or you could come on one of our trips! That’s right, we’ll have guided beach, dune, and tide pool trips up on our calendar soon. Stay tuned for a fun-packed weekend trip with stops for fresh seafood and delicious coast-brewed beer available this fall.

The sand and saltwater conspire together with unnerving speed to seize up and destroy your bike.
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